Full text of "Dreams"
The original of tliis book is in
tine Cornell University Library.
There are no known copyright restrictions in
the United States on the use of the text.
PR 9369.2.8371)7 1915
3 1924 013 245 208
LITTLE, BROWN, A^D COMPANY
8. J. PABKaiA^L A Co., Boston, U.S.A.
21 Small @itI-C!)tIti
WHO MAY LIVE TO GRASP
SOMEWHAT OF THAT WHICH FOE US
IS YET SIGHT, NOT TOUCH
TO the women working for libera-
tion the world over, Olive
Schreiner stands as a noble
leader. Novel readers know her as the
author of "The Story of an African
Farm," a solitary work of youthful
genius. But to those who, behind all
social movements and the fiction which
reflects them, find their deepest interest
in the evolution of life, and its philosophic
and artistic expression, this volume of
Olive Schreiner's " Dreams " — pro-
foundly stirring allegories which have
their place among the greatest in world-
literature — is the complete expression of
her peculiar power.
It has been said with truth of Olive
Schreiner that she is a philosopher who
looks upon the world with the eyes of an
artist. For throughout her writings, even
those which are political or controversial,
whenever she is roused emotionally (and
that is often) she begins to picture
thought; and like the artist of her
dream, " The Artist's Secret," she gets
the glowing colour of her brain pictures
from the throbbing heart of life... At
other times, Olive Schreiner may be rhe-
torical or careless in expression ("these
things matter very little," she has declared
with superb unconcern) ; but immediately
she begins to visualize, form and colour
take the place of rhetoric, and the result
is a masterpiece of literary art.
Among the irreparable losses sustained
by mankind in the brutal stupidity of mod-
ern warfare may be counted the larger
number of Olive Schreiner's " dreams."
Each chapter of her unpublished book on
Woman, the major work of a lifetime,
destroyed by British soldiers during the
Boer War, contained one or more such
allegories. " Three Dreams in a Desert,"
which has served as an inspiration to
English-speaking women wherever the
woman movement is felt or heard, was
taken from this manuscript and alone sur-
vives the disaster. Together with the ten
other allegories preserved in the present
volume, it is all that remains to us of Olive
The personality and life-work of Olive
Schreiner seem to sum up an entire epoch
in the social growth of woman. She was
born In the heart of South Africa, the
daughter of a German missionary and an
English mother of Puritan ancestry, and
her childhood was spent on a mission sta-
tion. Her early spiritual autobiography is
contained in " The Story of an African
Farm," begun while she was still a child
(a wonder-child 1 ) and finished before she
was twenty. Alone in the African bush,
Olive Schreiner's curious and reverent
study of primitive nature, her bold and
logical mind, led her to reject all religious
creeds and belief in a personal God, and
to accept the evolutionary theory of life.
The further discovery, in her haunting
allegory of "The Hunter," that "no
man liveth to himself and no man dieth
to himself," developed the higher con-
sciousness of human solidarity.
About the age of twenty, In 1882, Olive
Schrelner left the sandy plains and hill-
ocks of South Africa and went to Eng-
land, carrying with her the manuscript of
" The Story of an African Farm." This
first book was not only a singular work of
creative genius, It possessed in its intimate
and realistic descriptions of South African
life, for English and American readers.
all the fascination of the distant and the
strange. The religious motive was not
new to Victorian England, except in its
presentation. But the heroine, Lyndall,
was distinctly a fresh emergence in Eng-
lish fiction, and the forerunner of many
" new women " in our literature. The
young author, however, proved not to
possess the qualities of a professional
novelist. She was preeminently a student
and a dreamer.
Olive Schreiner's sQcial consciousness
was painfully quickened by the complex
and pathological life of big cities. She
lived alone in the East End of London,
making her own observations and forming
her own conclusions. Her great allegory,
"The Sunlight Lay Across My Bed,"
with its tremendous sweep of the histor-
ical imagination, and its modern socialist
vision of Hell and Heaven, was written
partly in a London attic. Other socialist
" dreams " took shape in that eager,
aspiring mind, and they were published;
but her critics felt robbed and cheated that
the young writer who had revealed such
an astonishing power of thought and gift
of imaginative prose should not produce
another novel. They wanted more stories
of South Africa, of adventurous English-
men and homely Boers, or of her own
heroic personality. A slight volume of
sketches appeared, early work, entitled
characteristically " Dream Life and Real
Life," showing only the author's un-
flinching realism and her preoccupation
with the " woman question." Then it de-
veloped that Olive Schreiner had found
the social awakening of wom«n the most
urgent and absorbing subject in the world,
one of the vital reorganizing movements
of human life, similar to the centuries-old
struggle for religious freedom of thought;
and she had thrown herself into the move-
ment with more than missionary zeal, with
the patient study of the philosopher and
the imagination of the poet.
In 1894, Olive Schreiner married a
well-known South African politician, Mr.
S. C. Cronwright, and thenceforth she
made her home on an African farm. One
of her brothers, the Hon. W. P. Schrei-
ner, was Prime Minister of Cape Colony
during the difficult years which preceded
the Boer War, and Olive Schreiner used
all her powerful influence, literary and po-
litical, to avert the slaughter and arouse
both Englishmen and Boers to a sa-
ving realization of human brotherhood.
"Trooper Peter H'alket of Mashona-
land," the dramatic story written in 1897,
contains a terrific indictment of British
methods of colonization in South Africa,
and the evil genius of Cecil Rhodes.
" The South African Question," a politi-
cal pamphlet which appeared two years
later, was an impassioned appeal to the
English sense of justice and greatness.
" There are hundreds of us, men and
women," she wrote eloquently, " who
have loved England; we would have
given our lives for her; but, rather than
strike down one South African man fight-
ing for freedom, we would take this right
hand and hold it in the fire till nothing
was left of it but a charred and blackened
bone." It was not Olive Schreiner's right
hand which she sacrificed in her loyalty to
the South African colonies, but the book
into which she had compressed all the
study, the thought and the dreams of
many years; — not a personal loss, but a
When, months later, she was held a
prisoner of war, in a little house on the
outskirts of an African village, guarded
by armed natives, her home looted and all
her papers destroyed, Olive Schreiner be-
gan resolutely in the semi-darkness of her
shuttered room to reconstruct from mem-
ory one chapter of the lost volume. The
picture is symbolic of woman's position
to-day. In all that clash and horror of
man's destructiveness, one of the greatest
women of her time, powerless to stop the
whirr of a single bullet, patiently and
heroically going about her work of recon-
" Woman and Labour," the book which
resulted from this imprisonment, has one
advantage perhaps over the original vol-
ume. The manuscript in ashes was writ-
ten for the student and the thinker. This
brief remembrance is an emotional appeal
to the whole reading world of men and
women. Rapidly the pictures of woman's
life on earth are presented, from a
glimpse of the savage mother wandering
freely by man's side, through the several
stages of growing dependence, until at
the end, clearly, as in her visions of old,
Olive Schreiner foresees the day when
woman, freed entirely from her centuries
of toiling servitude and deadly parasitism,
stands beside man in the control and gov-
ernment of modem life. Then, she de-
clares, and not until then, war will cease.
" The thought would never come to us as
women, ' Cast in men's bodies, settle the
thing so.' " For woman " knows the his-
tory of human flesh; she knows its cost;
man does not."
" Tell me what a man dreams, and I
will tell you what he loves," says Olive
Schreiner. In the most beautiful of all
her allegories, " A Dream of Wild Bees,"
the author has revealed to us what she
loves, and it explains her own deviations
from the beaten paths of literature. " For
the man I touch there is a path traced out
in the sand by a finger which no man
sees," says the spirit of genius in this per-
feet allegory. " That he must follow. . . .
When he runs with others, they shall reach
the goal before him. For strange voices
shall call to him and strange lights shall
beckon him, and he must wait and listen."
The author of these " Dreams " has
waited and listened. She has seen, across
the burning sands of woman's unrest, the
blue waters of a new ideal, — men and
women dwelling together hand in hand as
equal lovers and fellow workers. She has
visioned that ideal In all the glory of im-
aginative prose, and it is becoming real to
^T'HESE Dreams are printed in the order
in which they were written.
In the case of two there was a lapse of
some years between the writing of the first
and last parts ; these are placed according to
the date of the first part.
The Lost Joy
(From " The Story of an African Farm.";
The Gardens of Pleasure .
In a Far - off World .
Three Dreams in a Desert
A Dream of Wild Bees
(Written as a letter to a friend.)
In a Ruined Chapel
The Artist's Secret
I Thought I Stood
The Sunlight Lay across My
THE LOST JOY
THE LOST JOY
ALL day, where the sunlight played
on the sea-shore, Life sat.
All day the soft wind played
with her hair, and the young, young face
looked out across the water. She was
waiting — she was waiting; but she could
not tell for what.
All day the waves ran up and up on the
sand, and ran back again, and the pink
shells rolled. Life sat waiting; all day,
with the sunlight in her eyes, she sat there,
till, grown weary, she laid her head upon
her knee and fell asleep, waiting still.
THE LOST JOY
Then a keel grated on the sand, and
then a step was on the shore — Life awoke
and heard it. A hand was laid upon her,
and a great shudder passed through her.
She looked up, and saw over her the
strange, wide eyes of Love — and Life
now knew for whom she had sat there
And Love drew Life up to him.
And of that meeting was born a thing
rare and beautiful — Joy, First- Joy was
it called. The sunlight when it shines
upon the merry water is not so glad; the
rosebuds, when they turn back their lips
for the sun's first kiss, are not so ruddy.
Its tiny pulses beat quick. It was so warm,
so soft! It never spoke, but It laughed
and played In the sunshine : and Love and
Life rejoiced exceedingly. Neither whis-
pered It to the other, but deep in its own
heart each said, " It shall be ours for
TEE LOST JOY
Then there came a time — was it after
weeks? was It after months? (Love and
Life do not measure time) — when the
thing was not as it had been.
Still it played; still it laughed; still it
stained its mouth with purple berries; but
sometimes the little hands hung weary, and
the little eyes looked out heavily across
And Life and Love dared not look into
each other's eyes, dared not say, " What
ails our darling?" Each heart whispered
to itself, " It is nothing, it is nothing, to-
morrow it will laugh out dear," But to-
morrow and to-morrow came. They jour-
neyed on, and the child played beside them,
but heavily, more heavily.
One day Life and Love lay down to
sleep ; and when they awoke, it was gone :
only, near them, on the grass, sat a little
stranger, with wide-open eyes, very soft
and sad. Neither noticed it; but they
6 THE LOST JOY
walked apart, weeping bitterly, " Oh, our
Joyl our lost Joy I shall we see you no
more for ever?"
The little soft and sad-eyed stranger
slipped a hand into one hand of each, and
drew them closer, and Life and Love
walked on with it between them. And
when Life looked down in anguish, she
saw her tears reflected in its soft eyes.
And when Love, mad with pain, cried
out, " I am weary, I am weary I I can
journey no further. The light is all be-
hind, the dark is all before," a little rosy
finger pointed where the sunlight lay upon
the hill-sides. Always its large eyes were
sad and thoughtful: always the little
brave mouth was smiling quietly.
When on the sharp stones Life cut her
feet, he wiped the blood upon his gar-
ments, and kissed the wounded feet with
his little lips. When in the desert Love
lay down faint (for Love itself grows
THE LOST JOY
faint), he ran over the hot sand with his
little naked feet, and even there in the
desert found water in the holes in the
rocks to moisten Love's lips with. He
was no burden — he never weighted them ;
he only helped them forward on their
When they came to the dark ravine
where the icicles hang from the rocks —
for Love and Life must pass through
strange drear places — there, where all is
cold, and the snow lies thick, he took their
freezing hands and held them against his
beating little heart, and warmed them —
and softly he drew them on and on.
And when they came beyond, into the
land of sunshine and flowers, strangely the
great eyes lit up, and dimples broke out
upon the face. Brightly laughing, it ran
over the soft grass; gathered honey from
the hollow tree, and brought it them on
the palm of its hand; carried them water
8 THE LOST JOY
In the leaves of the lily, and gathered
flowers and wreathed them round their
heads, softly laughing all the while. He
touched them as their Joy had touched
them, but his fingers clung more ten-
So they wandered on, through the dark
lands and the light, always with that little
brave smiling one between them. Some-
times they remembered that first radiant
Joy, and whispered to themselves, " Oh I
could we but find him also I "
At last they came to where Reflection
sits; that strange old woman who has
always one elbow on her knee, and her
chin in her hand, and who steals light out
of the past to shed it on the future.
And Life and Love cried out, " O
wise one I tell us: when first we met, a
lovely radiant thing belonged to us —
gladness without a tear, sunshine without
a shade. Oh! how did we sin that we
THE LOST JOY 9
lost it? Where shall we go that we may
And she, the wise old woman, answered,
" To have it back, will you give up that
which walks beside you now? "
And in agony Love and Life cried,
"Give up this!" said Life. "When
the thorns have pierced me, who will suck
the poison out? When my head throbs,
who will lay his tiny hands upon it and
still the beating? In the cold and the
dark, who will warm my freezing heart? "
And Love cried out, " Better let me
die! Without Joy I can live; without
this I cannot. Let me rather die, not
lose it 1"
And the wise old woman answered, " O
fools and blind! What you once had is
that which you have now! When Love
and Life first meet, a radiant thing is born,
without a shade. When the roads begin
10 TEE LOST JOY
to roughen, when the shades begin to
darken, when the days are hard, and the
nights cold and long — then it begins to
change. Love and Life will not see it,
will not know it — till one day they start
up suddenly, crying, ' O God ! O God !
we have lost it I Where is it?' They do
not understand that they could not carry
the laughing thing unchanged into the des-
ert, and the frost, and the snow. They
do not know that what walks beside them
still is the Joy grown older. The grave,
sweet, tender thing — warm in the cold-
est snows, brave in the dreariest deserts —
its name is Sympathy; it is the Perfect
IN certain valleys there was a hunter.
Day by day he went to hunt for wild-
fowl in the woods; and it chanced
that once he stood on the shores of a large
lake. While he stood waiting in the
rushes for the coming of the birds, a great
shadow fell on him, and in the water he
saw a reflection. He looked up to the
sky; but the thing was gone. Then a
burning desire came over him to see once
again that reflection in the water, and all
day he watched and waited; but night
came, and it had not returned. Then he
went home with his empty bag, moody and
silent. His comrades came questioning
about him to know the reason, but he an-
swered them nothing; he sat alone and
14 THE HUNTER
brooded. Then his friend came to him,
and to him he spoke.
" I have seen to-day," he said, " that
which I never saw before — a vast white
bird, with silver wings outstretched, sail-
ing in the everlasting blue. And now it
is as though a great fire burnt within my
breast. It was but a sheen, a shimmer,
a reflection in the water; but now I desire
nothing more on earth than to hold her."
His friend laughed.
" It was but a beam playing on the
water, or the shadow of your own head.
To-morrow you will forget her," he said.
But to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-
morrow the hunter walked alone. He
sought in the forest and in the woods, by
the lakes and among the rushes, but he
could not find her. He shot no more wild-
fowl; what were they to him?
" What ails him ? " said his comrades.
" He is mad," said one.
THE HUNTER 15
" No, but he is worse," said another;
" he would see that which none of us have
seen, and make himself a wonder."
*' Come, let us forswear his company,"
So the hunter walked alone.
One night, as he wandered in the shade,
very heart-sore and weeping, an old man
stood before him, grander and taller than
the sons of men.
"Who are you?" asked the hunter.
" I am Wisdom," answered the old
man; "but some men called me Knowl-
edge. All my life I have grown in these
valleys; but no man sees me till he has
sorrowed much. The eyes must be washed
with tears that are to behold me; and,
according as a man has suffered, I speak."
And the hunter cried —
" Oh, you who have lived here so long,
tell me, what is that great wild bird I have
seen sailing in the blue? They would
16 THE HUNTER
have me believe she is a dream ; the shadow
of my own head."
The old man smiled.
" Her name is Truth. He who has
once seen her never rests again. Till death
he desires her."
And the hunter cried —
" Oh, tell me where I may find her."
But the man said,
" You have not suffered enough," and
Then the hunter took from his breast
the shuttle of Imagination, and wound on
it the thread of his Wishes; and all night
he sat and wove a net.
In the morning he spread the golden
net open on the ground, and into it he
threw a few grains of credulity, which his
father had left him, and which he kept in
his breast-pocket. They were like white
puff-balls, and when you trod on them a
brown dust flew out. Then he sat by to
THE HUNTER 17
see what would happen. The first that
came Into the net was a snow-white bird,
with dove's eyes, and he sang a beautiful
song — "A human-God 1 a human-God !
a human-God I " it sang. The second that
came was black and mystical, with dark,
lovely eyes, that looked into the depths of
your soul, and he sang only this — " Im-
mortality ! "
And the hunter took them both in his
arms, for he said —
" They are surely of the beautiful fam-
ily of Truth."
Then came another, green and gold,
who sang in a shrill voice, like one crying
in the market-place, — " Reward after
Death I Reward after Death 1 "
And he said —
"You are not so fair; but you are fair
too," and he took it.
And others came, brightly coloured,
singing pleasant songs, till all the grains
18 TEE HUNTER
were finished. And the hunter gathered
all his birds together, and built a strong
iron cage called a new creed, and put all
his birds in it.
Then the people came about dancing
" Oh, happy hunter 1 " they cried. " Oh,
wonderful man! Oh, delightful birds!
Oh, lovely songs I "
No one asked where the birds had come
from, nor how they had been caught; but
they danced and sang before them. And
the hunter too was glad, for he said —
" Surely Truth is among them. In time
she will moult her feathers, and I shall
see her snow-white form."
But the time passed, and the people
sang and danced; but the hunter's heart
grew heavy. He crept alone, as of old,
to weep ; the terrible desire had awakened
again in his breast. One day, as he sat
alone weeping. It chanced that Wisdom
THE HUNTER 19
met him. He told the old man what he
And Wisdom smiled sadly.
" Many men," he said, " have spread
that net for Truth; but they have never
found her. On the grains of credulity she
will not feed ; in the net of wishes her feet
cannot be held ; in the air of these valleys
she will not breathe. The birds you have
caught are of the brood of Lies. Lovely
and beautiful, but still lies; Truth knows
And the hunter cried out in bitterness —
" And must I then sit still to be de-
voured of this great burning? "
And the old man said —
" Listen, and in that you have suffered
much and wept much, I will tell you what
I know. He who sets out to search for
Truth must leave these valleys of supersti-
tion for ever, taking with him not one
shred that has belonged to them. Alone
20 THE HUNTER
he must wander down into the Land of
Absolute Negation and Denial; he must
abide there; he must resist temptation;
when the light breaks he must arise and
follow it into the country of dry sunshine.
The mountains of stern reality will rise
before him; he must climb them; beyond
them lies Truth."
"And he will hold her fasti he will
hold her in his hands 1 " the hunter cried.
Wisdom shook his head.
" He will never see her, never hold her.
The time is not yet."
" Then there is no hope ? " cried the
" There is this," said Wisdom. " Some
men have climbed on those mountains;
circle above circle of bare rock they have
scaled; and, wandering there, in those
high regions, some have chanced to pick
up on the ground, one white, silver feather
dropped from the wing of Truth. And
THE HUNTER 21
it shall come to pass," said the old man,
raising himself prophetically and pointing
with his finger to the sky, " it shall come
to pass, that, when enough of those silver
feathers shall have been gathered by the
hands of men, and shall have been woven
into a cord, and the cord into a net, that
in that net Truth may be captured. Noth-
ing but Truth can hold Truth,"
The hunter arose. " I will go," he said.
But Wisdom detained him.
" Mark you well — who leaves these
valleys never returns to them. Though
he should weep tears of blood seven days
and nights upon the confines, he can never
put his foot across them. Left — they
are left for ever. Upon the road which
you would travel there is no reward of-
fered. Who goes, goes freely — for the
great love that is in him. The work is his
" I go," said the hunter; " but upon the
22 TEE HUNTER
mountains, tell me, which path shall I
" I am the child of The-Accumulated-
Knowledge-of-Ages," said the man; "I
can walk only where many men have trod-
den. On these mountains few feet have
passed; each man strikes out a path for
himself. He goes at his own peril: my
voice he hears no more. I may follow
after him, but I cannot go beiore him."
Then Knowledge vanished.
And the hunter turned. He went to his
cage, and with his hands broke down the
bars, and the jagged iron tore his flesh.
It is sometimes easier to build than to
One by one he took his plumed birds
and let them fly. But, when he came to
his dark-plumed bird, he held it, and
looked into its beautiful eyes, and the bird
uttered Its low deep cry — "Immortal-
THE HUNTER 23
And he said quickly, " I cannot part
with it. It is not heavy; it eats no food.
I will hide it in my breast: I will take it
with me." And he buried it there, and
covered it over with his cloak.
But the thing he had hidden grew heav-
ier, heavier, heavier — till it lay on his
breast like lead. He could not move with
it. He could not leave those valleys with
it. Then again he took it out and looked
" Oh, my beautiful, my heart's own I "
he cried, " may I not keep you? "
He opened his hands sadly.
" Go," he said. " It may happen that
in Truth's song one note is like to yours;
but / shall never hear it."
Sadly he opened his hand, and the bird
flew from him for ever.
Then from the shuttle of Imagination
he took the thread of his wishes, and
threw it on the ground; and the empty
24 TEE HUNTER
shuttle he put Into his breast, for the,
thread was made in those valleys, but the
shuttle came from an unknown country.
He turned to go, but now the people came
about him, howling.
" Fool, hound, demented lunatic 1 " they
cried. " How dared you break your cage
and let the birds fly?"
The hunter spoke; but they would not
" Truth I who is she? Can you eat her?
can you drink her? Who has ever seen
her? Your birds were real: all could hear
them sing! Oh, fool! vile reptile! athe-
ist I " they cried, " you pollute the air."
" Come, let us take up stones and stone
him," cried some.
" What affair is it of ours? " said others.
" Let the idiot go; " and went away. But
the rest gathered up stones and mud and
threw at him. At last, when he was
bruised and cut, the hunter crept away into
THE HUNTER 25
the woods. And it was evening about
He wandered on and on, and the shade
grew deeper. He was on the borders now
of the land where it is always night. Then
he stepped into It, and there was no light
there. With his hands he groped; but
each branch as he touched it broke off,
and the earth was covered with cinders.
At every step his foot sank in, and a fine
cloud of impalpable ashes flew up Into his
face; and it was dark. So he sat down
upon a stone and buried his face In his
hands, to wait In that Land of Negation
and Denial till the light came.
And It was night In his heart also.
Then from the marshes to his right and
left cold mists arose and closed about him.
A fine, Imperceptible rain fell In the dark,
and great drops gathered on his hair and
clothes. His heart beat slowly, and a
numbness crept through all his limbs.
26 THE HUNTER
Then, looking up, two merry wisp lights
came dancing. He lifted his head to look
at them. Nearer, nearer they came. So
warm, so bright, they danced like stars of
fire. They stood before him at last. From
the centre of the radiating flame in one
looked out a woman's face, laughing, dim-
pled, with streaming yellow hair. In the
centre of the other were merry laughing
ripples, like the bubbles on a glass of wine.
They danced before him.
"Who are you," asked the hunter,
" who alone come to me in my solitude
and darkness ? "
" We are the twins Sensuality," they
cried. " Our father's name is Human-
Nature, and our mother's name is Excess.
We are as old as the hills and rivers, as
old as the first man; but we never die,"
" Oh, let me wrap my arms about you ! "
cried the first; "they are soft and warm.
THE HUNTER 27
Your heart is frozen now, but I will make
it beat. Oh, come to me 1 "
" I will pour my hot life Into you," said
the second; "your brain is numb, and
your limbs are dead now; but they shall
live with a fierce free life. Oh, let me pour
" Oh, follow us," they cried, '* and live
with us. Nobler hearts than yours have
sat here in this darkness to wait, and they
have come to us and we to them ; and they
have never left us, never. All else is a
delusion, but we are real, we are real.
Truth is a shadow; the valleys of super-
stition are a farce; the earth is of ashes,
the trees all rotten ; but we — feel us —
we livel You cannot doubt us. Feel us,
how warm we are! Oh, come to us!
Come with us ! "
Nearer and nearer round his head they
hovered, and the cold drops melted on his
forehead. The bright light shot into his
28 THE BUNTER
eyes, dazzling him, and the frozen blood
began to run. And he said —
"Yes; why should I die here in this
awful darkness? They are warm, they
melt my frozen blood 1 " and he stretched
out his hands to take them.
Then in a moment there arose be-
fore him the image of the thing he had
loved, and his hand dropped to his
" Oh, come to us! " they cried.
But he buried his face.
" You dazzle my eyes," he cried, " you
msrice my heart warm ; but you cannot give
me what I desire. I will wait here —
wait till I die. Go!"
He covered his face with his hands and
would not listen; and when he looked up
again they were two twinkling stars, that
vanished in the distance.
And the long, long night rolled on.
All who leave the valley of superstition
THE HUNTER 29
pass through that dark land; but some go
through it in a few days, some linger there
for months, some for years, and some die
At last for the hunter a faint light
played along the horizon, and he rose to
follow it; and he reached that light at
last, and stepped into the broad sunshine.
Then before him rose the almighty moun-
tains of Dry-facts and Realities. The
clear sunshine played on them, and the
tops were lost in the clouds. At the foot
many paths ran up. An exultant cry burst
from the hunter. He chose the straightest
and began to climb; and the rocks and
ridges resounded with his song. They
had exaggerated; after all, it was not so
high, nor was the road so steep! A few
days, a few weeks, a few months at most,
and then the top! Not one feather only
would he pick up; he would gather all
that other men had found — weave the
30 TEE HUNTER
net — capture Truth — hold her fast —
touch her with his hands — clasp her I
He laughed In the merry sunshine, and
sang loud. Victory was very near. Nev-
ertheless, after a while the path grew
steeper. He needed all his breath for
climbing, and the singing died away. On
the right and left rose huge rocks, devoid
of lichen or moss, and in the lava-like
earth chasms yawned. Here and there he
saw a sheen of white bones. Now too the
path began to grow less and less marked;
then it became a mere trace, with a foot-
mark here and there; then it ceased alto-
gether. He' sang no more, but struck
forth a path for himself, until he reached
a mighty wall of rock, smooth and with-
out break', stretching as far as the eye
could see. " I will rear a stair against
It; and, once this wall climbed, I shall
be almost there," he said bravely; and
worked. With his shuttle of Imagination
THE HUNTER 31
he dug out stones ; but half of them would
not fit, and half a month's work would roll
down because those below were ill chosen.
But the hunter worked on, saying always
to himself, " Once this wall climbed, I
shall be almost there. This great work
At last he came out upon the top, and
he looked about him. Far below rolled
the white mist over the valleys of super-
stition, and above him towered the moun-
tains. They had seemed low before ; they
were of an immeasurable height now, from
crown to foundation surrounded by walls
of rock, that rose tier above tier in mighty
circles. Upon them played the eternal sun-
shine. He uttered a wild cry. He bowed
himself on fo the earth, and when he rose
his face was white. In absolute silence he
walked on. He was very silent now. In
those high regions the rarefied air is hard
to breathe by those born in the valleys;
32 THE HUNTER
every breath he drew hurt him, and the
blood oozed out from the tips of his fin-
gers. Before the next wall of rock he
began to work. The height of this seemed
infinite, and he said nothing. The sound
of his tool rang night and day upon the
iron rocks into which he cut steps. Years
passed over him, yet he worked on; but
the wall towered up always above him to
heaven. Sometimes he prayed that a little
moss or lichen might spring up on those
bare walls to be a companion to him; but
it never came.
And the years rolled on: he counted
them by the steps he had cut — a few for
a year — only a few. He sang no more;
he said no more, " I will do this or
that " — he only worked. And at night,
when the twilight settled down, there
looked out at him from the holes and
crevices in the rocks strange wijd
THE HUNTER 33
" Stop your work, you lonely man, and
speak to us," they cried.
" My salvation is in work. If I should
stop but for one moment you would creep
down upon me," he replied. And they
put out their long necks further,
" Look down into the crevice at your
feet," they said. "See what lie there —
white bones 1 As brave and strong a man
as you climbed to these rocks. And he
looked up. He saw there was no use in
striving; he would never hold Truth,
never see her, never find her. So he lay
down here, for he was very tired. He
went to sleep for ever. He put himself
to sleep. Sleep is very tranquil. You are
not lonely when you are asleep, neither do
your hands ache, nor your heart." And
the hunter laughed between his teeth.
" Have I torn from my heart all that
was dearest; have I wandered alone in
the land of night; have I resisted tempta-
34 TEE HUNTER
tion; have I dwelt where the voice of my
kind is never heard, and laboured alone, to
lie down and be' food for you, ye harpies? "
He laughed fiercely; and the Echoes of
Despair slunk away, for the laugh of a
brave, strong heart is as a death-blow to
Nevertheless they crept out again and
looked at him.
" Do you know that your hair is
white? " they said, " that your hands begin
to tremble like a child's? Do you see that
the point of your shuttle is gone? — it is
cracked already. If you should ever climb
this stair," they said, " it will be your last.
You will never climb anotherJ'
And he answered, " / know it! " and
The old, thin hands cut the stones ill
and jaggedly, for the fingers were stiff and
bent. The beauty and the strength of the
man was gone.
THE HUNTER 35
At last, an old, wizened, shrunken face
looked out above the rocks. It saw
the eternal mountains rise with walls to
the white clouds; but its work was
The old hunter folded his tired hands
and lay down by the precipice where he
had worked away his life. It was the
sleeping time at last. Below him over the
valleys rolled the thick white mist. Once
it broke; and through the gap the dying
eyes looked down on the trees and fields
of their childhood. From afar seemed
borne to him the cry of his own wild birds,
and he heard the noise of people singing
as they danced. And he thought he heard
among them the voices of his old com-
rades; and he saw far off the sunlight
shine on his early home. And great tears
gathered in the hunter's eyes.
"Ah! they who die there do not die
alone," he cried.
36 THE HUNTER
Then the mists rolled together again;
and he turned his eyes away.
" I have sought," he said, " for long
years I have laboured; but I have not
found her. I have not rested, I have not
repined, and I have not seen her; now
my strength is gone. Where I lie down
worn out, other men will stand, young and
fresh. By the steps that I have cut they
will climb ; by the stairs that I have built,
they will mount. They will never know
the name of the man who made them. At
the clumsy work they will laugh; when
the stones roll they will curse me. But
they will mount, and on my work; they
will climb, and by my stair! They will
find her, and through mel And no man
liveth to himself, and no man dieth to
The tears rolled from beneath the shriv-
elled eyelids. If Truth had appeared
above him in the clouds now he could not
THE HUNTER 37
have seen her, the mist of death was In
" My soul hears their glad step com-
ing," he said; "and they shall mount!
they shall mount! " He raised his shriv-
elled hand to his eyes.
Then slowly from the white sky above,
through the still air, came something fall-
ing, falling, falling. Softly it fluttered
down, and dropped on to the breast of the
dying man. He felt it with his hands. It
was a feather. He died holding it.
THE GARDENS OF PLEASURE
THE GARDENS OF PLEASURE
SHE walked upon the beds, and the
sweet rich scent arose ; and she gath-
ered her hands full of flowers.
Then Duty, with his white clear features,
came and looked at her. Then she ceased
from gathering, but she walked away
among the flowers, smiling, and with her
Then Duty, with his still white face,
came again, and looked at her; but she,
she turned her head away from him. At
last she saw his face, and she dropped the
fairest of the flowers she had held, and
walked silently away.
Then again he came to her. And she
moaned, and bent her head low, and turned
to the gate. But as she went out she
42 THE GARDENS OF PLEASURE
looked back at the sunlight on the faces of
the flowers, and wept in anguish. Then
she went out, and it shut behind her for
ever; but still in her hand she held of the
buds she had gathered, and the scent was
very sweet in the lonely desert.
But he followed her. Once more he
stood before her with his still, white,
death-like face. And she knew what he
had come for: she unbent the fingers, and
let the flowers drop out, the flowers she
had loved so, and walked on without them,
with dry, aching eyes. Then for the last
time he came. And she showed him her
empty hands, the hands that held nothing
now. But still he looked. Then at length
she opened her bosom and took out of it
one small flower she had hidden there, and
laid it on the sand. She had nothing more
to give now, and she wandered away, and
the grey sand whirled about her.
IN A FAR-OFF WORLD
IN A FAR-OFF WORLD
THERE is a world in one of the
far-off stars, and things do not
happen here as they happen there.
In that world were a man and woman;
they had one work, and they walked to-
gether side by side on many days, and
were friends — and that is a thing that
happens now and then in this world also.
But there was something in that star-
world that there is not here. There was
a thick wood: where the trees grew clos-
est, and the stems were interlocked, and
the summer sun never shone, there stood
a shrine. In the day all was quiet, but at-
night, when the stars shone or the moon
glinted on the tree-tops, and all was quiet
below, if one crept here quite alone and
46 IN A FAR-OFF WORLD
knelt on the steps of the stone altar, and
uncovering one's breast, so wounded it
that the blood fell down on the altar steps,
then whatever he who knelt there wished
for was granted him. And all this hap-
pens, as I said, because it is a far-off world,
and things often happen there as they do
not happen here.
Now, the man and woman walked to-
gether; and the woman wished well to
the man. One night when the moon was
shining so that the leaves of all the trees
glinted, and the waves of the sea were
silvery, the woman walked alone to the
forest. It was dark there; the moonlight
fell only in little flecks on the dead leaves
under her feet, and the branches were
knotted tight overhead. Farther in it got
darker, not even a fleck of moonlight
shone. Then she came to the shrine ; she
knelt down before it and prayed; there
came no answer. Then she uncovered her
IN A FAR-OFF WORLD 47
breast; with a sharp two-edged stone that
lay there she wounded it. The drops
dripped slowly down on to the stone, and
a voice cried, " What do you seek? "
She answered, " There is a man; I hold
him nearer than anything. I would give
him the best of all blessings."
The voice said, " What is it? "
The girl said, " I know not, but that
which is most good for him I wish him to
The voice said, " Your prayer is an-
swered; he shall have it."
Then she stood up. She covered her
breast and held the garment tight upon it
with her hand, and ran out of the forest,
and the dead leaves fluttered under her
feet. Out in the moonlight the soft air
was blowing, and the sand glittered on the
beach. She ran along the smooth shore,
then suddenly she stood still. Out across
the water there was something moving.
48 IN A FAR-OFF WORLD
She shaded her eyes and looked. It was
a boat; it was sliding swiftly over the
moonlit water out to sea. One stood up-
right in it ; the face the moonlight did not
show, but the figure she knew. It was
passing swiftly; it seemed as if no one
propelled it; the moonlight's shimmer did
not let her see clearly, and the boat was
far from shore, but it seemed almost as
if there was another figure sitting in the
stern. Faster and faster it glided over the
water away, away. She ran along the
shore; she came no nearer it. The gar-
ment she had held closed fluttered open;
she stretched out her arms, and the moon-
light shone on her long loos? hair.
Then a voice beside her whispered,
"What is it?"
She cried, " With my blood I bought
the best of all gifts for him. I have come
to bring it him I He is going from me ! "
The voice whispered softly, " Your
IN A FAR-OFF WORLD 49
prayer was answered. It has been given
She cried, "What is It?"
The voice answered, " It is that he
might leave you."
The girl stood still.
Far out at sea the boat was lost to sight
beyond the moonlight sheen.
The voice spoke softly, " Art thou con-
She said, " I am contented."
At her feet the waves broke in long
ripples softly on the shore.
THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
UNDER A MIMOSA - TREE
AS I travelled across an African
plain the sun shone down hotly.
Then I drew my horse up under
a mimosa-tree, and I took the saddle from
him and left him to feed among the
parched bushes. And all to right and to
left stretched the brown earth. And I sat
down under the tree, because the heat beat
fiercely, and all along the horizon the air
throbbed. And after a while a heavy
drowsiness came over me, and I laid my
head down against my saddle, and I fell
asleep there. And, in my sleep, I had a
54 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
I thought I stood on the border of a
great desert, and the sand blew about
everywhere. And I thought I saw two
great figures like beasts of burden of the
desert, and one lay upon the sand with
its neck stretched out, and one stood by it.
And I looked curiously at the one that lay
upon the ground, for it had a great burden
on its back, and the sand was thick about
it, so that it seemed to have piled over it
And I looked very curiously at it. And
there stood one beside me watching. And
I said to him, " What is this huge creature
who lies here on the sand? "
And he said, " This is woman; she that
bears men in her body."
And I said, "Why does she He here
motionless with the sand piled round
And he answered, "Listen, I will tell
you I Ages and ages long she has lain
THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 55
here, and the wind has blown over her.
The oldest, oldest, oldest man living has
never seen her move: the oldest, oldest
book records that she lay here then, as she
lies here now, with the sand about her.
But listen 1 Older than the oldest book,
older than the oldest recorded memory of
man, on the Rocks of Language, on the
hard-baked clay of Ancient Customs, now
crumbling to 'decay, are found the marks
of her footsteps! Side by side with his
who stands beside her you may trace them ;
and you know that she who now lies there
once wandered free over the rocks with
And I said, " Why does she lie there
And he said, " I take it, ages ago the
her, and when she stooped low to give
suck to her young, and her back was broad,
he put his burden of subjection on to it.
56 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
and tied it on with the broad band of In-
evitable Necessity. Then she looked at
the earth and the sky, and knew there was
no hope for her; and she lay down on the
sand with the burden she could not loosen.
Ever since she has lain here. And the ages
have come, and the ages have gone, but
the band of Inevitable Necessity has not
And I looked and saw in her eyes the
terrible patience of the centuries; the
ground was wet with her tears, and her
nostrils blew up the sand.
And I said, " Has she ever tried to
And he said, " Sometimes a limb has
quivered. But she is wise ; she knows she
cannot rise with the burden on her."
And I said, " Why does not he who
stands by her leave her and go on? "
And he said, " He cannot. Look ^ "
And I saw a broad band passing along
THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 57
the ground from one to the other, and it
bound them together.
He said, " While she lies there he must
stand and look across the desert."
And I said, " Does he know why he
cannot move ? "
And he said, " No."
And I heard a sound of something
cracking, and I looked, and I saw the band
that bound the burden on to her back
broken asunder; and the burden rolled on
to the ground.
And I said, "What is this?"
And he said, " The Age-of-muscular-
force is dead. The Age-of-nervous-force
has killed him with the knife he holds in
his hand; and silently and invisibly he has
crept up to the woman, and with that knife
of Mechanical Invention he has cut the
band that bound the burden to her back.
The Inevitable Necessity is broken. She
might rise now."
58 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
And I saw that she still lay motionless
on the sand, with her eyes open and her
neck stretched out. And she seemed to
look for something on the far-off border
of the desert that never came. And I won-
dered if she were awake or asleep. And
as I looked her body quivered, and a light
came into her eyes, like when a sunbeam
breaks into a dark room.
I said, "What is it?"
He whispered, "Hush I the thought
has come to her, ' Might I not rise? ' "
And I looked. And she raised her head
from the sand, and I saw the dent where
her neck had lain so long. And she looked
at the earth, and she looked at the sky,
and she looked at him who stood by her:
but he looked out across the desert.
And I saw her body quiver; and she
pressed her front knees to the earth, and
veins stood out; and I cried, "She is go-
ing to rise I "
THREE DREAMS, IN A DESERT 59
But only her sides heaved, and she lay
still where she was.
But her head she held up; she did not
lay it down again. And he beside me said,
" She is very weak. See, her legs have
been crushed under her so long."
And I saw the creature struggle: and
the drops stood out on her.
And I said, " Surely he who stands be-
side her will help her? "
And he beside me answered, " He can-
not help her: she must help herself. Let
her struggle till she is strong."
And I cried, " At least he will not hin-
der her I See, he moves farther from her,
and tightens the cord between them, and
he drags her down."
And he answered, " He does not under-
stand. When she moves she draws the
band that binds them, and hurts him, and
he moves farther from her. The day will
come when he will understand and will
60 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
know what she is doing. Let her once
stagger on to her knees. In that day he
will stand close to her, and look into her
eyes with sympathy."
And she stretched her neck, and the
drops fell from her. And the creature
rose an inch from the earth and sank
And I cried, " Oh, she is too weak ! she
cannot walkl The long years have^ taken
all her strength from her. Can she never
And he answered me, " See the light in
her eyes ! "
And slowly the creature staggered on to
And I awoke: and all to the east and
to the west stretched the barren earth,
with the dry bushes on it. The ants ran
up and down in the red sand, and the heat
beat fiercely. I looked up through the thin
THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 61
branches of the tree at the blue sky over-
head. I stretched myself, and I mused
oyer the dream I had had. And I fell
asleep again, with my head on my saddle.
And in the fierce heat I had another
I saw a desert and I saw a woman com-
ing out of it. And she came to the bank
of a dark river; and the bank was steep
and high.^ And on it an old man met
her, who had a long white beard; and a
stick that curled was in his hand, and on
it was written Reason. And he asked her
what she wanted; and she said "I am
woman; and I am seeking for the land of
And he said, " It is before you."
And she said, " I see nothing before me
but a dark flowing river, and a bank steep
• The banks of an African river are sometimes a hun-
dred feet high, and consist of deep shifting sands, through
which in the course of ages the river has worn its gigan-
62 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
and high, and cuttings here and there with
heavy sand in them."
And he said, " And beyond that? "
She said, " I see nothing, but sometimes,
when I shade my eyes with my hand, I
think I see on the further bank trees and
hills, and the sun shining on them 1 "
He said, " That is the Land of Free-
She said, " How am I to get there? "
He said, " There is one way, and one
only. Down the banks of Labour through
the water of Suffering. There Is no other."
She said, " Is there no bridge? "
He answered, " None."
She said, " Is the water deep ? "
He said, " Deep."
She said, "Is the floor worn?"
He said, " It is. Your foot may slip at
any time, and you may be lost."
She said, " Have any crossed already? "
He said, " Some have triedf "
THREE DREAMS, IN A DESERT 63
She said, " Is there a track, to show
where the best fording is? "
He said, " It has to be made."
She shaded her eyes with her hand ; and
she said, " I will go."
And he said, " You must take off the
clothes you wore in the desert: they are
dragged down by them who go into the
water so clothed."
And she threw from her gladly the man-
tle of Ancient-received-opinions she wore,
for it was worn full of holes. And she
took the girdle from her waist that she
had treasured so long, and the moths flew
out of it in a cloud. And he said, " Take
the shoes of dependeijce off your feet."
And she stood there naked, but for one
white garment that clung close to her.
And he said, " That you may keep. So
they wear clothes in the Land of Freedom.
In the water It buoys; it always swims."
And I saw on its breast was written
64 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
Truth ; and it was white ; the sun had not
often shone on it; the other clothes had
covered it up. And he said, " Take this
stick; hold it fast. In that day when it
slips from your hand you are lost. Put
it down before you ; feel your way : where
it cannot find a bottom do not set your
And she said, "I am ready; let me
And he said, " No — but stay; what is
that — in your breast? "
She was silent.
He said, " Open it, and let me see."
And she opened it. And against her
breast was a tiny thing, who drank from
it, and the yellow curls above his forehead
pressed against it; and his knees were
drawn up to her, and he held her breast
fast with his hands.
And Reason said, " Who is he, and
what is he doing here ? "
THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 65
And she said, " See his little wings — "
And Reason said, " Put him down."
And she said, " He is asleep, and he is
drinking! I will carry him to the Land
of Freedom. He has been a child so long,
so long, I have carried him. In the Land
of Freedom he will be a man. We will
walk together there, and his great white
wings will overshadow me. He has lisped
one word only to me in the desert —
' Passion 1 ' I have dreamed he might
learn to say ' Friendship ' in that land."
And Reason said, " Put him down 1 "
And she said, " I will carry him so —
with one arm, and with the other I will
fight the water,"
He said, " Lay him down on the ground.
When you are in the water you will forget
to fight, you will think only of him. Lay
him down." He said, " He will not die.
When he finds you have left him alone he
will open his wings and fly. He will be
66 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
in the Land of Freedom before you.
Those who reach the Land of Freedom,
the first hand they see stretching down the
bank to help them shall be Love's. He
will be a man then, not a child. In your
breast he cannot thrive; put him down
that he may grow."
And she took her bosom from his mouth,
and he bit her, so that the blood ran down
on to the ground. And she laid him down
on the earth ; and she covered her wound.
And she bent and stroked his wings. And
I saw the hair on her forehead turned
white as snow, and she had changed from
youth to age.
And she stood far off on the bank of
the river. And she said, " For what do
I go to this far land which no one has
ever reached? Oh, I am alone/ I am
And Reason, that old man, said to her,
" Silence ! what do you hear? "
THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 67
And she listened intently, and she said,
" I hear a sound of feet, a thousand times
ten thousand and thousands of thousands,
and they beat this wayl "
He said, " They are the feet of those
that shall follow you. Lead onl make a
track to the water's edgel Where you
stand now, the ground will be beaten flat
by ten thousand times ten thousand feet."
And he said, " Have you seen the locusts
how they cross a stream ? First one comes
down to the water-edge, and it is swept
away, and then another comes and then
another, and then another, and at last with
their bodies piled up a bridge is built and
the rest pass over."
She said, " And, of those that come first,
some are swept away, and are heard of
no more; their bodies do not even build
" And are swept away, and are heard of
no more — and what of that? " he said.
68 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
"And what of that " she said.
" They make a track to the water's
" They make a track to the water's
edge ." And she said, " Over that
bridge which shall be built with our bodies,
who will pass? "
He said, " The entire human race."
And the woman grasped her staff.
And I saw her turn down that dark path
to the river.
And I awoke ; and all about me was the
yellow afternoon light : the sinking sun lit
up the fingers of the milk bushes; and
my horse stood by me quietly feeding.
And I turned on my side, and' I watched
the ants run by thousands-m the red sand.
I thought I would go on my way now —
the afternoon was cooler. Then a drow-
siness crept over me again, and I laid back
my head and fell asleep.
THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT 69
And I dreamed a dream.
I dreamed I saw a land. And on the
hills walked brave women and brave men,
hand in hand. And they looked into
each other's eyes, and they were not
And I saw the women also hold each
And I said to him beside me, " What
place is this? "
And he said, " This is heaven."
And I said, " Where is it? "
And he answered, " On earth."
And I said, "When shall these things
And he answered, " In the Future."
And I awoke, and all about me was the
sunset light; and on the low hills the sun
lay, and a delicious coolness had crept over
everything; and the ants were going
slowly home. And I walked towards my
70 THREE DREAMS IN A DESERT
horse, who stood quietly feeding. Then
the sun passed down behind the hills; but
I knew that the next day he would arise
A DREAM OF WILD BEES
A DREAM OF WILD BEES
A MOTHER sat alone at an open
window. Through it came the
voices of the children as they
played under the acacia-trees, and the
breath of the hot afternoon air. In and
out of the room flew the bees, the wild bees,
with their legs yellow with pollen, going to
and from the acacia-trees, droning all the
while. She sat on a low chair before the
table and darned. She took her work from
the great basket that stood before her on
the table: some lay on her knee and half
covered the book that rested there. She
watched the needle go in and out; and the
dreary hum of the bees and the noise of
the children's voices became a confused
murmur in her ears, as she worked slowly
74 A DREAM OF WILD BEES
and more slowly. Then the bees, the long-
legged wasp-like fellows who make no
honey, flew closer and closer to her head,
droning. Then she grew more and more
drowsy, and she laid her hand, with the
stocking over it, on the edge of the table,
and leaned her head upon it. And the
voices of the children outside grew more
and more dreamy, came now far, now near ;
then she did not hear them, but she felt
under her heart where the ninth child lay.
Bent forward and sleeping there, with the
bees flying about her head, she had a weird
brain-picture ; she thought the bees length-
ened and lengthened themselves out and
became human creatures and moved round
and round her. Then one came to her
softly, saying, " Let me lay my hand upon
thy side where the child sleeps. If I shall
touch him he shall be as I."
She asked, " Who are you? "
And he said, " I am Health. Whom I
A DREAM OF WILD BEES 75
touch will have always the red blood dan-
cing in his veins ; he will not know weari-
ness nor pain ; life will be a long laugh to
" No," said another, " let me touch; for
I am Wealth. If I touch him material
care shall not feed on him. He shall live
on the blood and sinews of his fellow-men,
if he will; and what his eye lusts for, his
hand will have. He shall not know ' I
want.' " And the child lay still like lead.
And another said, " Let me touch him :
I am Fame. The man I touch, I lead to
a high hill where all men may see him.
When he dies he is not forgotten, his name
rings down the centuries, each echoes it on
to his fellows. Think — not to be for-
gotten through the ages 1 "
And the mother lay breathing steadily,
but in the brain-picture they pressed closer
" Let me touch the child," said one.
76 A DREAM OP WILD BEES
" for I am Love. If I touch him he shall
not walk through life alone. In the great-
est dark, when he puts out his hand he
shall find another hand by it. When the
world is against him, another shall say,
' You and I.' " And the child trembled.
But another pressed close and said,
"Let me touch; for I am Talent. I can
do all things — that have been done be-
fore. I touch the soldier, the statesman,
the thinker, and the politician who succeed ;
and the writer who is never before his time,
and never behind it. If I touch the child
he shall not weep for failure."
About the mother's head the bees were
flying, touching her with their long taper-
ing limbs; and, in her brain-picture, out
of the shadow of the room came one with
sallow face, deep-lined, the cheeks drawn
into hollows, and a mouth smiling quiver-
ingly. He stretched out his hand. And
the mother drew back, and cried, " Who
A DREAM OF WILD BEES 77
are you?" He answered nothing; and
she looked up between his eyelids. And
she said, " What can you give the child —
health?" And he said, "The man I
touch, there wakes up in his blood a burn-
ing fever, that shall lick his blood as fire.
The fever that I will give him shall be
cured when his life is cured."
"You give wealth?"
He shook his head. " The man whom
I touch, when he bends to pick up gold,
he sees suddenly a light over his head in
the sky; while he looks up to see it, the
gold slips from between his fingers, or
sometimes another passing takes it from
He answered, " Likely not. For the
man I touch there is a path traced out in
the sand by a finger which no man sees.
That he must follow. Sometimes it leads
almost to the top, and then turns down
78 A DREAM OF WILD BEES
suddenly into the valley. He must follow
it, though none else sees the tracing,"
He said, " He shall hunger for it — but
he shall not find it. When he stretches
out his arms to it, and would lay his heart
against a thing he loves, then, far off along
the horizon he shall see a light play. He
must go towards it. The thing he loves
will not journey with him ; he must travel
alone. When he presses somewhat to his
burning heart, crying, ' Mine, mine, my
own I ' he shall hear a voice — ' Renounce !
renounce I this is not thine ! ' "
"He shall succeed?"
He said, " He shall fail. When he runs
with others they shall reach the goal before
him. For strange voices shall call to him
and strange lights shall beckon him, and
he must wait and listen. And this shall be
the strangest: far off across the burning
sands where, to other men, there is only
A DREAM OF WILD BEES 79
the desert's waste, he shall see a blue sea !
On that sea the sun shines always, and the
water is blue as burning amethyst, and the
foam is white on the shore. A great land
rises from it, and he shall see upon the
mountain-tops burning gold."
The mother said, " He shall reach it? "
And he smiled curiously.
She said, "It is real?"
And he said, " What is real? "
And she looked up between his half-
closed eyelids, and said, " Touch."
And he leaned forward and laid his hand
upon the sleeper, and whispered to it,
smiling ; and this only she heard — " This
shall he thy reward — that the ideal shall
be real to thee."
And the child trembled ; but the mother
slept on heavily and her brain-picture van-
ished. But deep within her the antenatal
thing that lay here had a dream. In those
eyes that had never seen the day, in that
80 A DREAM OF WILD BEES
half-shaped brain was a sensation of light !
Light — that it never had seen. Light —
that perhaps it never should see. Light —
that existed somewhere !
And already it had Its reward : the Ideal
was real to it.
IN A RUINED CHAPEL
IN A RUINED CHAPEL
" I cannot forgive — I love."
THERE are four bare walls; there
is a Christ upon the walls, in red,
carrying his cross; there is a
Blessed Bambino with the face rubbed out ;
there is Madonna In blue and red; there
are Roman soldiers and a Christ with tied
hands. All the roof Is gone; overhead Is
the blue, blue Italian sky; the rain has
beaten holes in the walls, and the plaster
Is peeling from It. The chapel stands here
alone upon the promontory, and by day
and by night the sea breaks at Its feet.
Some say that it was set here by the monks
from the Island down below, that they
might bring their sick here In times of
deadly plague. Some say that it was set
84 IN A RUINED CHAPEL
here that the passing monks and friars, as
they hurried by upon the roadway, might
stop and say their prayers here. Now no
one stops to pray here, and the sick come
no more to be healed.
Behind it runs the old Roman road. If
you climb it and come and sit there alone
on a hot sunny day you may almost hear
at last the clink of the Roman soldiers upon
the pavement, and the sound of that older
time, as you sit there in the sun, when Han-
nibal and his men broke through the brush-
wood, and no road was.
Now it is very quiet. Sometimes a peas-
ant girl comes riding by between her pan-
niers, and you hear the mule's feet beat
upon the bricks of the pavement; some-
times an old woman goes past with a bun-
dle of weeds upon her head, or a brigand-
looking man hurries by with a bundle of
sticks in his hand; but for the rest the
Chapel lies here alone upon the promon-
IN A RUINED CHAPEL 85
tory, between the two bays and hears the
sea break at its feet.
I came here one winter's day when the
midday sun shone hot on the bricks of the
Roman road. I was weary, and the way
seemed steep. I walked into the Chapel
to the broken window, and looked out
across the bay. Far off, across the blue,
blue water, were towns and villages, hang-
ing white and red dots, upon the mountain-
sides, and the blue mountains rose up Into
the sky, and now stood out from it and
now melted back again.
The mountains seemed calling to me,
but I knew there would never be a bridge
built from them to me; never, never,
never! I shaded my eyes with my hand
and turned away. I could not bear to look
I walked through the ruined Chapel,
and looked at the Christ in red carrying
86 IN A RUINED CHAPEL
his cross, and the Blessed rubbed-out Bam-
bino, and the Roman soldiers, and the
folded hands, and the reed; and I went
and sat down in the open porch upon a
stone. At my feet was the small bay, with
its white row of houses buried among the
olive trees ; the water broke in a long, thin,
white line of foam along the shore ; and I
leaned my elbows on my knees. I was
tired, very tired; tired with a tiredness
that seemed older than the heat of the day
and the shining of the sun on the bricks of
the Roman road ; and I lay my head upon
my knees; I heard the breaking of the
water on the rocks three hundred feet
below, and the rustling of the wind among
the olive trees and the ruined arches, and
then I fell asleep there. I had a dream.
A man cried up to God, and God sent
down an angel to help him; and the angel
came back and said, " I cannot help that
IN A RUINED CHAPEL 87
God said, " How Is it with him? "
And the angel said, " He cries out con-
tinually that one has injured him; and he
would forgive him and he cannot."
God said, "What have you done for
The angel said, " All . I took him
by the hand, and I said, ' See, when other
men speak ill of that man do you speak
well of him ; secretly, in ways he shall not
know, serve him; if you have anything
you value share it with him, so, serving
him, you will at last come to feel posses-
sion in him, and you will forgive.' And
he said, ' I will do it.' Afterwards, as I
passed by in the dark of night, I heard one
crying out, * I hgve done all. It helps
nothing I My speaking well of him helps
me nothing I If I share my heart's blood
with him, is the burning within me less?
I cannot forgive; I cannot forgive 1 Oh,
God, I cannot forgive ! '
88 IN A RUINED CHAPEL
" I said to him, ' See here, look back on
all your past. See from your childhood all
smallness, all Indirectness that has been
yours ; look well at it, and in its light do
you not see every man your brother?
Are you so sinless you have right to
*' He looked, and said, ' Yes, you are
right; I too have failed, and I forgive my
fellow. Go, I am satisfied; I have for-
given ; ' and he laid him down peacefully
and folded his hands on his breast and I
thought it was well with him. But scarcely
had my wings rustled and I turned to come
up here, when I heard one crying out on
earth again, ' I cannot forgive ! I cannot
forgive ! Oh, God, God, I cannot forgive 1
It is better to die than to hate I I cannot
forgive 1 I cannot forgive ! ' And I went
and stood outside his door in the dark,
and I heard him cry, ' I have not sinned
so, not sol If I have torn my fellows'
IN A RUINED CHAPEL 89
flesh ever so little, I have kneeled down
and kissed the wound with my mouth till
it was healed. I have not willed that any
soul should be lost through hate of me.
I^f they have but fancied that I wronged
them I have lain down on the ground be-
fore them that they might tread on me, and
so, seeing my humiliation, forgive and not
be lost through hating me; they have not
cared that my soul should be lost; they
have not willed to save me ; they have not
tried that I should forgive them 1 '
" I said to him, ' See here, be thou con-
tent; do not forgive: forget this soul and
its injury; go on your way. In the next
world perhaps '
" He cried, ' Go from me, you under-
stand nothing! What is the next world
to me I I am lost now, to-day. I cannot
see the sunlight shine, the dust is in my
throat, the sand is in my eyes! Go from
me, you know nothing I Oh, once again
90 IN A RUINED CHAPEL
before I die to see that the world is beau-
tiful 1 Oh, God, God, I cannot live and
not love. I cannot live and hate. Oh,
God, God, God I ' So I left him crying
out and came back here."
God said, "This man's soul must be
And the angel said " How? "
God said, " Go down you, and save
The angel said, " What more shall I
Then God bent down and whispered in
the angel's ear, and the angel spread out
its wings and went down to earth.
And partly I woke, sitting there upon
the broken stone with my head on my knee ;
but I was too weary to rise. I heard the
wind roam through the olive trees and
among the ruined arches, and then I slept
IN A RUINED CHAPEL 91
The angel went down and found the
man with the bitter heart and took him
by the hand, and led him to a certain
Now the man wist not where it was the
angel would take him nor what he would
show him there. And when they came the
angel shaded the man's eyes with his wing,
and when he moved it the man saw some-
what on the earth before them. For God
had given -it to that angel to unclothe a
human soul; to take from it all those out-
ward attributes of form, and colour, and
age, and sex, whereby one man is known
from among his fellows and is marked off
from the rest, and the soul lay before them,
bare, as a man turning his eye inwards
They saw its past, its childhood, the
tiny life with the dew upon it; they saw
Its youth when the dew was melting, and
the creature raised its Lilliputian mouth
92 IN A RUINED CEAPEL
to drink from a cup too large for it, and
they saw how the water spilt; they saw
its hopes that were never realized; they
saw its hours of Intellectual blindness, men
call sin ; they saw its hours of all-radiating
insight, which men call righteousness ; they
saw its hour of strength, when it leaped to
its feet crying, " I am omnipotent ; " its
hour of weakness, when it fell to the
earth and grasped dust only; they saw
what it might have been, but never would
The man bent forward.
And the angel said, " What Is it?"
He answered, "It Is // It Is myself!"
And he went forward as if he would have
lain his heart against It; but the angel
held him back and covered his eyes.
Now God had given power to the angel
further to unclothe that soul, to take from
It all those outward attributes of time and
place and circumstance whereby the Indi-
IN A RUINED CliAPEL 93
vidual life is marked off from the life of
Again the angel uncovered the man's
eyes, and he looked. He saw before him
that which in its tiny drop reflects the
whole universe; he saw that which marks
within itself the step of the furthest star,
and tells how the crystal grows under
ground where no eye has seen it; that
which is where the germ in the egg stirs;
which moves the outstretched fingers of
the little new-born babe, and keeps the
leaves of the trees pointing upward ; which
moves where the jelly-fish sail alone on t|ie
sunny seas, and is where the lichens form
on the mountains' rocks.
And the man looked.
And the angel touched him.
But the man bowed his head and shud-
dered. He whispered — "/^ is God!"
And the angel re-covered the man's eyes.
And when he uncovered them there was
94 IN A RUINED CHAPEL
one walking from them a little way off ; —
for the angel had reclothed the soul in its
outward form and vesture — and the man
knew who it was.
And the angel said, " Do you know
And the man said, " I know him," and
he looked after the figure.
And the angel said, " Have you for-
given him ? "
But the man said, "How beautiful my
brother is! "
And the angel looked into the man's
eyes, and he shaded his own face with his
wing from the light. He laughed softly
and went up to God.
But the men were together on earth.
The blue, blue sky was over my head,
and the waves were breaking below on the
shore. I walked through the little chapel.
IN A RUINED CHAPEL 95
and I saw the Madonna in blue and red,
and the Christ carrying his cross, and the
Roman soldiers with the rod, and the
Blessed Bambino with its broken face ; and
then I walked down the sloping rock to the
brick pathway. The olive trees stood up
on either side of the road, their black ber-
ries and pale-green leaves stood out against
the sky ; and the little ice-plants hung from
the crevices in the stone wall. It seemed
to me as if it must have rained while I was
asleep. I thought I had never seen the
heavens and the earth look so beautiful
before. I walked down the road. The
old, old, old tiredness was gone.
Presently there came a peasant boy
down the path leading his ass ; she had
two large panniers fastened to her sides;
and they went down the road before
I had never seen him before; but I
96 IN A RUINED CHAPEL
'. '. /
should have liked to walk by him and to
have held his hand only, he would
not have known why. ^
I SAW a woman sleeping. In her sleep
she dreamt Life stood before her, and
held in each hand a gift — in the one
Love, in the other Freedom. And she said
to the woman, " Choose ! "
And the woman waited long: and she
said, " Freedom I "
And Life said, " Thou hast well chosen.
If thou hadst said, * Love,' I would have
given thee that thou didst ask for; and I
would have gone from thee, and returned
to thee no more. Now, the day will come
when I shall return. In that day I shall
bear both gifts in one hand."
I heard the woman laugh in her sleep.
THE ARTIST'S SECRET
THE ARTIST'S SECRET
THERE was an artist once, and he
painted a picture. Other artists
had colours richer and rarer, and
painted more notable pictures. He painted
his with one colour, there was a wonderful
red glow on it; and the people went up
and down, saying, " We like the picture,
we like the glow."
The other artists came and said,
"Where does he get his colour from?"
They asked him; and he smiled and said,
" I cannot tell you " ; and worked on with
his head bent low.
And one went to the far East and bought
costly pigments, and made a rare colour
and painted, but after a time the picture
faded. Another read in the old books,
104 THE ARTIST'S SECRET
and made a colour rich and rare, but
when he had put it on the picture it was
But the artist painted on. Always the
work got redder and redder, and the artist
grew whiter and whiter. At last one day
they found him dead before his picture,
and they took him up to bury him. The
other men looked about in all the pots and
crucibles, but they foxmd nothing they had
And when they undressed him to put
his grave-dothes on him, they found above
his left breast the mark of a woimd — it
was an old, old wound, that must Have
been there all his life, for the edges were
old and hardened; but Death, who seals
aU things, had drawn the edges together,
and closed it up.
And they buried him. And still the
people went about saying, " Where did he
find his colour from ? "
THE ARTISTS SECRET 105
And it came to pass that after a while
the artist was forgotten — but the work
"/ THOUGHT I STOOD"
"/ THOUGHT I STOOD"
I THOUGHT I stood in Heaven be-
fore God's throne, and God asked me
what I had come for. I said I had
conie to arraign my brother, Man.
God said, " What has he done? "
I said, " He has taken my sister,
Woman, and has stricken her, and
wounded her, and thrust her out into the
streets; she lies there prostrate. His
hands are red with blood. / am here to
arraign him; that the kingdom be taken
from him, because he is not worthy, and
given unto me. My hands are pure."
I showed them.
no "/ THOUGHT I STOOD"
God said, " Thy hands are pure. — Lift
up thy robe."
I raised it; my feet were red, blood-red,
as if I had trodden in wine.
God said, "How is this?"
I said, " Dear Lord, the streets on earth
are full of mire. If I should walk straight
on in them my outer robe might be be-
spotted, you see how white it isl There-
fore I pick my way."
God said, " On what? "
I was silent, and I let my robe fall. I
wrapped my mantle about my head. I
went out softly. I was afraid that the
angels would see me.
Once more I stood at the gate of
Heaven, I and another. We held fast by
one another; we were very tired. We
looked up at the great gates; the angels
" I THOUGHT I STOOD " 111
opened them, and we went in. The mud
was on our garments. We walked across
the marble floor, and up to the great
throne. Then the angels divided us. Her,
they set upon the top step, but me, upon
the bottom ; for, they said, " Last time
this woman came here she left red foot-
marks on the floor; we had to wash
them out with our tears. Let her not go
Then she, with whom I came, looked
back, and stretched out her hand to me;
and I went and stood beside her. And the
angels, they, the shining ones who never
sinned and never suffered, walked by us to
and fro and up and down; I think we
should have felt a little lonely there if it
had not been for one another, the angels
were so bright.
God asked me what I had come for;
and I drew my sister forward a little that
he might see her.
112 "/ THOUGHT I STOOD"
God said, " How is it you are here to-
I said, " She was upon the ground in
the street, and they passed over her; I
lay down by her, and she put her arms
around my neck, and so I lifted her, and
we two rose together."
God said, " Whom are you now come
to accuse before me?"
I said, " We are come to accuse no
And God bent, and said, " My children
— what is it that ye seek? "
And she beside me drew my hand that
I should speak for both.
I said, *' We have come to ask that thou
shouldst speak to Man, our brother, and
give us a message for him that he might
understand, and that he might "
God said, " Go, take the message down
to him I"
I said, " But what is the message?"
"/ THOUGHT I STOOD" 113
God said, " Upon your hearts It is writ-
ten; take it down to him."
And we turned to go; the angels went
with us to the door. They looked at us.
And one said — " Ai I but their dresses
are beautiful ! "
And the other said, " I thought it was
mire when they came in, but see, it is all
But another said, " Hush, it is the light
from their faces ! "
And we went down to him.
THE SUNLIGHT LAY ACROSS MY
THE SUNLIGHT LAY ACROSS MY
IN the dark one night I lay upon my
bed. I heard the policeman's feet
beat on the pavement; I heard the
wheels of carriages roll home from houses
of entertainment; I heard a woman's
laugh below my window and then I
fell asleep. And in the dark I dreamt a
dream. I dreamt God took my soul to
Hell was a fair place ; the water of the
lake was blue.
I said to God, " I like this place."
God said, " Ay, dost thou 1 "
Birds sang, turf came to the water-edge,
and trees grew from it. Away off among
118 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
the trees I saw beautiful women walking.
Their clothes were of many delicate col-
ours and clung to them, and they were tall
and graceful and had yellow hair. Their
robes trailed over the grass. They glided
in and out among the trees, and over their
heads hung yellow fruit like large pears of
I said, " It is very fair; I would go up
and taste the "
God said, "Wait."
And after a while I noticed a very fair
woman pass : she looked this way and that,
and drew down a branch, and it seemed
she kissed the fruit upon it softly, and went
on her way, and her dress made no rustle
as she passed over the grass. And when
I saw her no more, from among the stems
came another woman fair as she had been,
in a delicate tinted robe; she looked this
way and that. When she saw no one there
she drew down the fruit, and when she
ACROSS MY BED 119
had looked over it to find a place, she put
her mouth to it softly, and went away.
And I saw other ajid other women come,
making no noise, and they glided away also
over the grass.
And I said to God, "What are they
God said, " They are poisoning."
And I said, "How?"
God said, " They touch it with their lips,
when they have made a tiny wound in it
with their fore-teeth they set in it that
which is under their tongues: they close
it with their lip — that no man may see
the place, and pass on."
I said to God, "Why do they do it?"
God said, " That another may not eat."
I said to God, " But if they poison all
then none dare eat; what do they gain?"
God said, " Nothing."
I said, " Are they not afraid they them-
selves may bite where another has bitten? "
120 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY
God said, " They are afraid. In Hell
all men fear."
He called me further. And the water
of the lake seemed less blue.
Then, to the right among the trees were
men working. And I said to God, " I
should like to go and work with them.
Hell must be a very fruitful place, the
grass is so green."
God said, " Nothing grows in the gar-
-den they are making."
We stood looking; and I saw them
working among the bushes, digging holes,
but in them they set nothing; and when
they had covered them with sticks andi
earth each went a way off and sat behind
the bushes watching ; and I noticed that
as each walked he set his foot down care-
fully looking where he trod. I said to
God, "What are they doing?"
God said, " Making pitfalls into which
their fellows may sink."
ACROSS MY BED 121
I said to God, " Why do they do It? "
God said, " Because each thinks that
when his brother falls he will rise."
I said to God, " How will he rise? "
God said, " He will not rise."
And I saw their eyes gleam from behind
I said to God, "Are these men sane?"
God said, " They are not sane ; there Is
no sane man in Hell."
And he told me to come further.
And I looked where I trod.
And we came where Hell opened Into
a plain, and a great house stood there.
Marble pillars upheld the roof, and white
marble steps led up to It. The wind of
heaven blew through It. Only at the back
hung a thick curtain. Fair men and women
there feasted at long tables. They danced,
and I saw the robes of women flutter in
the air and heard the laugh of strong men.
What they feasted with was wine; they
122 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
drew it from large jars which stood some-
what in the background, and I saw the
wine sparkle as they drew it.
And I said to God, " I should like to go
up and drink." And God said, "Wait."
And I saw men coming In to the Banquet
House; they came in from the back and
lifted the corner of the curtain at the sides
and crept in quickly; and they let the cur-
tain fall behind them ; they bore great jars
they could hardly carry. And the men
and women crowded round them, and the
newcomers opened their jars and gave
them of the wine to drink; and I saw that
the women drank even more greedily than
the men. And when others had well
drunken they set the jars among the old
ones beside the wall, and took their places
at the table. And I saw that some of the
jars were very old and mildewed and dusty,
but others had still drops of new must on
them and shone from the furnace.
ACROSS MY BED 123
And I said to God, "What is that?"
For amid the sound of the singing, and
over i:he dancing of feet, and over the
laughing across the wine-cups I heard a
And God said, " Stand a way off."
And he took me where I saw both sides
of the curtain. Behind the house was the
wine-press where the wine was made. I
saw the grapes crushed, and I heard them
cry. I said, " Do not they on the other
side hear it?"
God said, " The curtain is thick ; they
And I said, " But the men who came
in last. They saw? "
God said, "They let the curtain fall
behind them — and they forget 1 "
I said, " How came they by their jars
of wine? "
God said, " In the treading of the press
these are they who came to the top; they
124 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
have climbed out over the edge, and filled
their jars from below, and have gone into
And I said, " And if they had fallen as
they climbed ?"
God said, " They had been wine."
I stood a way off watching in the sun-
shine, and I shivered.
God lay in the sunshine watching too.
Then there rose one among the feasters,
who said, " My brethren, let us pray ! "
And all the men and women rose: and
strong men bowed their heads, and moth-
ers folded their little children's hands to-
gether, and turned their faces upwards, to
the roof. And he who first had risen stood
at the table head, and stretched out both
his hands, and his beard was long and
white, and his sleeves and his beard had
been dipped in wine; and because the
sleeves were wide and full they held much
wine, and it dropped down upon the floor.
ACROSS MY BED 125
And he cried, " My brothers and my
sisters, let us pray."
And all the men and women answered,
" Let us pray."
He cried, " For this fair banquet-house
we thank thee, Lord."
And all the men and women said, " We
thank thee. Lord."
" Thine is this house, dear Lord."
" Thine is this house."
" For us hast thou made it."
" For us."
" Oh, fill our jars with wine, dear Lord."
" Our jars with wine."
" Give peace and plenty in our time,
" Peace and plenty in our time "
I said to God, " Whom is it they are talk-
ing to? " God said, " Do I know whom
they speak of?" And I saw they were
looking up at the roof; but out in the sun-
shine, God lay.
126 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
dear Lord 1 "
" Dear Lord."
" Our children's children, Lord, shall
rise and call thee blessed."
" Our children's children. Lord,"
I said to God, "The grapes are crying 1 "
God said, " Still 1 / hear them"
" shall call thee blessed."
" Shall call thee blessed."
" Pour forth more wine upon us. Lord."
" More wine."
" More wine."
" More wine 1 "
" Wine ! ! "
" Wine III"
"Dear Lord I"
Then men and women sat down and the
feast went on. And mothers poured out
wine and fed their little children with it,
and men held up the cup to women's lips
and cried, " Beloved ! drink," and women
ACROSS MY BED 127
filled their lovers' flagons and held them
up ; and yet the feast went on.
And after a while I looked, and I saw
the curtain that hung behind the house
I said to God, " Is it a wind? "
God said, " A wind."
And it seemed to me, that against the
curtain I saw pressed the forms of men
and women. And after a while the feast-
ers saw it move, and they whispered, one
to another. Then some rose and gathered
the most worn-out cups, and into them
they put what was left at the bottom of
other vessels. Mothers whispered to their
children, " Do not drink all, save a little
drop when you have drunk." And when
they had collected all the dregs they slipped
the cups out under the bottom of the cur-
tain without lifting It. After a while the
curtain left off moving.
I said to God, " How Is It so quiet?"
128 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY
He said, " They have gone away to
I said, " They drink it — their own! "
God said, " It comes from this side of
the curtain, and they are very thirsty."
Then the feast went on, and after a
while I saw a small, white hand slipped in
below the curtain's edge along the floor;
and it motioned towards the wine jars.
And I said to God, " Why is that hand
so bloodless? "
And God said, " It is a wine-pressed
And men saw it and started to their feet ;
and women cried, and ran to the great wine
jars, and threw their arms around them,
and cried, " Ours, our own, our beloved ! "
and twined their long hair about them.
I said to God, "Why are they fright-
ened of that one small hand? "
God answered, " Because it is so white."
And men ran in a great company
ACROSS MY BED 129
towards the curtain, and struggled there.
I heard them strike upon the floor. And
when they moved away the curtain hung
smooth and still; and there was a small
stain upon the floor.
I said to God, " Why do they not wash
God said, " They cannot."
And they took small stones and put them
down along the edge of the curtain to keep
it down. Then the men and women sat
down again at the tables.
And I said to God, " Will those stones
keep it down?"
God said, "What think you?"
I said, " If the wind blew "
, God said, " If the wind blew? "
And the feast went on.
And suddenly I cried to God, " If one
should rise among them, even of them-
selves, and start up from the table and
should cast away his cup, and cry, ' My
130 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
brothers and my sisters, stayl what Is it
that we drink ? ' and with his sword
should cut in two the curtain, and holding
wide the fragments, cry, ' Brothers, sisters,
seel it is not wine, not winel not wine!
My brothers, oh, my sisters — I ' and he
should overturn the "
God said, " Be still I , see there."
I looked: before the banquet-house,
among the grass, I saw a row of mounds,
flowers covered them, and gilded marble
stood at their heads. I asked God what
He answered, " They are the graves of
those who rose up at the feast and cried."
And I asked God how they came there.
He said, " The men of the banquet-
house rose and cast them down back-
I said, "Who buried them?"
God said, " The men who cast them
ACROSS MY BED 131
I said, " How came It that they threw
them down, and then set marble over
God said, " Because the bones cried out,
they covered them."
And among the grass and weeds I saw
an unburied body lying; and I asked God
why it was.
God said, " Because it was thrown down
only yesterday. In a little while, when
the flesh shall have fallen from its bones,
they will bury it also, and plant flowers
And still the feast went on.
Men and women sat at the tables quaf-
fing great bowls. Some rose, and threw
their arms about each other, and danced
and sang. They pledged each other In the
wine, and kissed each other's blood-red
Higher and higher grew the revels.
Men, when they had drunk till they
132 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
could no longer, threw what was left in
their glasses up to the roof, and let it fall
back in cascades. Women dyed their chil-
dren's garments in the wine, and fed them
on it till their tiny mouths were red. Some-
times, as the dancers whirled, they over-
turned a vessel, and their garments were
bespattered. Children sat upon the floor
with great bowls of wine, and swam rose-
leaves on it, for boats. They put their
hands in the wine and blew large red bub-
And higher and higher grew the revels,
and wilder the dancing, and louder and
louder the singing. But here and there
among the revellers were those who did
not revel. I saw that at the tables here
and there were men who sat with their
elbows on the board and hands shading
their eyes; they looked into the wine-cup
beneath them, and did not drink. And
when one touched them lightly on the
ACROSS MY BED 133
shoulder, bidding them to rise and dance
and sing, they started, and then looked
down, and sat there watching the wine In
the cup, but they did not move.
And here and there I saw a woman sit
apart. The others danced and sang and
fed their children, but she sat silent with
her head aside as though she listened.
Her little children plucked her gown ; she
did not see them ; she was listening to some
sound, but she did not stir.
The revels grew higher. Men drank
till they could drink no longer, and lay
their heads upon the table sleeping heavily.
Women who could dance no more leaned
back on the benches with their heads
against their lovers' shoulders. Little chil-
dren, sick with wine, lay down upon the
edges of their mothers' robes. Sometimes,
a man rose suddenly, and as he staggered
struck the tables and overthrew the
benches; some leaned upon the balus-
134 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
trades sick unto death. Here and there
one rose who staggered to the wine jars
and lay down beside them. He turned the
wine tap, but sleep overcame him as he lay
there, and the wine ran out.
Slowly the thin, red stream ran across
the white marbled floor; it reached the
stone steps; slowly, slowly, slowly it
trickled down, from step to step, from
step to step: then it sank into the earth.
A thin white smoke rose up from it.
I was silent; I could not breathe; but
God called me to come further.
And after I had travelled for a while
I came where on seven hills lay the ruins
of a mighty banquet-house larger and
stronger than the one which I had seen
I said to God, " What did the men who
built it here?"
God said, " They feasted."
I said, "On what?"
ACROSS MY BED 135
God said, " On wine."
And I looked ; and It seemed to me that
behind the ruins lay still a large circular
hollow within the earth where a foot of
the wine-press had stood.
I said to God, " How came it that this
large house fell? "
God said, " Because the earth was
He called me to come further.
And at last we came upon a hill where
blue waters played, and white marble lay
upon the earth. I said to God, "What
was here once ? "
God said, " A pleasure house."
I looked, and at my feet great pillars
lay. I cried aloud for joy to God, " The
marble blossoms I "
God said, "Ay, 'twas a fairy house.
There has not been one like to It, nor
ever shall be. The pillars and the porti-
coes blossomed; and the wine-cups were
136 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
as gathered flowers: on this side all the
curtain was broidered with fair designs,
the stitching was of gold."
I said to God, " How came it that it
God said, " On the side of the wine-
press it was dark."
And as we travelled, we came where lay
a mighty ridge of sand, and a dark river
ran there ; and there rose two vast mounds.
I said to God, " They are very mighty."
God said, " Ay, exceeding great."
And I listened.
God asked me what I was listening to.
And i said, " A sound of weeping, and
I hear the sound of strokes, but I cannot
tell whence it comes."
God said, " It is the echo of the wine-
press lingering still among the coping-
stones upon the mounds. A banquet-house
And he called me to come further.
ACROSS MY BED 137
Upon a barren hill-side, where the soil
was arid, God called me to stand still.
And I looked around.
God said, " There was a f easting-house
here once upon a time."
I said to God, " I see no mark of any I "
God said, " There was not left one stone
upon another that has not been thrown
down." And I looked round; and on the
hill-side was a lonely grave.
I said to God, " What lies there? "
He said, " A vine truss, bruised in the
wine-press 1 "
And at the head of the grave stood a
cross, and on its foot lay a crown of thorns.
And as I turned to go, I looked back-
ward. The wine-press and the banquet-
house were gone ; but the grave yet stood.
And when I came to the edge of a long
ridge there opened out before me a wide
plain of sand. And when I looked down-
ward I saw great stones lie shattered ; and
138 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
the desert sand had half covered them
I said to God, " There is writing on
them, but I cannot read it."
And God blew aside the desert sand,
and I read the writing : " Weighed in the
balance, and found " but the last
word was wanting.
And I said to God, " It was a banquet-
God said, " Ay, a banquet-house."
I said, " There was a wine-press here? "
God said, " There was a wine-press."
I asked no further question. I was very
weary; I shaded my eyes with my hand,
and looked through the pink evening light.
Far off, across the sand, I saw two fig-
ures standing. With wings upfolded high
above their heads, and stern faces set,
neither man nor beast, they looked out
across the desert sand, watching, watching,
watching! I did not ask God what they
ACROSS MY BED 139
were, for I knew what the answer would
And, further and yet further, in the
evening light, I looked with my shaded
Far off, where the sands were thick and
heavy, I saw a solitary pillar standing:
the crown had fallen, and the sand had
buried it. On the broken pillar sat a grey
owl-of-the-desert, with folded wings; and
in the evening light I saw the desert fox
creep past it, trailing his brush across the
Further, yet further, as I looked across
the desert, I saw the sand gathered i;ito
heaps as though it covered something.
I cried to God, " Oh, I am so weary."
God said, " You have seen only one half \
I said, " I cannot see more, I am afraid
of Hell. In my own narrow little path I
dare not walk because I think that one has
140 - THE SUNLIGHT LAY
dug a pitfall for me ; and if I put my hand
to take a fruit I draw it back again be-
cause I think it has been kissed already.
If I look out across the plains, the mounds
are burial heaps; and when I pass among
the stones I hear them crying aloud. When
I see men dancing I hear the time beaten
in with sobs ; and their wine is living ! Oh,
I cannot bear Hell ! "
God said, "Where will you go? "
I said, " To the earth from which I
came ; it was better there."
And God laughed at me; and I won-
dered why he laughed.
God said, " Come, and I will show you
And partly I awoke. It was still and
dark; the sound of the carriages had died
in the street ; the woman who laughed was
gone ; and the policeman's tread was heard
ACROSS MY BED 141
no more. In the dark it seemed as if a
great hand lay upon my heart, and crushed
it. I tried to breathe and tossed from side
to side; and then again I fell asleep, and
God took me to the edge of that world.
It ended. I looked down. The gulf, it
seemed to me, was fathomless; and then
I saw two bridges crossing it that both
I said to God, " Is there no other way
by which men cross it? "
God said, " One ; it rises far from here
and slopes straight upwards."
I asked God what the bridges' names
God said, " What matter for the names?
Call them the Good, the True, the Beau-
tiful, if you will — you will yet not under-
I asked God how it was I could not see
142 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
God said, " It is seen only by those who
I said, " De they all lead to one
God said, "All Heaven is one: never-
theless some parts are higher than others;
those who reach the higher may always go
down to rest in the lower; but those in the
lower may not have strength to climb to
the higher; nevertheless the light is all
And I saw over the bridge nearest me,
which was wider than the other, countless
footmarks go. I asked God why so many
went over it.
God said, " It slopes less deeply, and
leads to the first heaven."
And I saw that some of the footmarks
were of feet returning. I asked God how
He said, " No man who has once en-
tered Heaven ever leaves it; but some.
ACROSS MY BED 143
when they have gone half way, turn back,
because they are afraid there Is no land
I said, " Has none ever returned? "
God said, " No ; once in Heaven always
And God took me over. And when we
came to one of the great doors -^ for
Heaven has more doors than one, and they
are all open — the posts rose up so high
on either side I could not see the top, nor
indeed if there were any.
And it seemed to me so wide that all
Hell could go in through it.
I said to God, "Which is the larger,
Heaven or Hell?"
God said, " Hell is as wide, but Heaven
is deeper. All Hell could be engulfed in
Heaven, but all Heaven could not be en-
gulfed in Hell."
And we entered. It was a still great
land. The mountains rose on every hand.
144 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
and there was a pale clear light; and I
saw it came from the rocks and stones.
I asked God how it was.
But God did not answer me.
I looked and wondered, for I had
thought Heaven would be otherwise. And
after a while it began to grow brighter,
as if the day were breaking, and I asked
God if the sun were not going to rise.
God said, " No ; we are coming to where
the people are."
And as we went on it grew brighter and
brighter till it was burning day; and on
the rock were flowers blooming, and trees
blossomed at the roadside ; and streams of
water ran ever5rwhere, and I heard the
birds singing; I asked God where they
God said, " It is the people calling to
And when we came nearer I saw them
walking, and they shone as they walked.
ACROSS MY BED 145
I asked God how It was they wore no
God said, " Because all their body gives
the light; they dare not cover any part."
And I asked God what they were doing.
God said, " Shining on the plants that
they may grow."
And I saw that some were working In
companies, and some alone, but most were
In twos, sometimes two rnen and some-
times two women ; but generally there was
one man and one woman ; and I asked God
how It was.
God said, " When one man and one
woman shine together, it makes the most
perfect light. Many plants need that for
their growing. Nevertheless, there are
more kinds of plants In Heaven than one,
and they need many kinds of light."
And one from among the people came
running towards me; and when he came
near It seemed to me that he and I had
146 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
played together when we were little chil-
dren, and that we had been born on the
same day. And I told God what I felt;
God said, " All men feel so in Heaven
when another comes towards them."
And he who ran towards me held my
hand, and led me through the bright lights.
And when we came among the trees he
sang aloud, and his companion answered,
and it was a woman, and he showed me
to her. She said, " He must have water " ;
and she took some in her hands, and fed
me (I had been afraid to drink of the
water in Hell), and they gathered fruit
for me, and gave it me to eat. They said,
" We shone long to make it ripen," and
they laughed together as they saw me eat it.
The man said, " He is very weary; he
must sleep " (for I had not dared to sleep
in Hell), and he laid my head on his com-
panion's knee and spread her hair out over
me. I slept, and all the while in my sleep
ACROSS MY BED 147
I thought I heard the birds calling across
me. And when I woke it was like early
morning, with the dew on everything.
And the man took my hand and led me
to a hidden spot among the rocks. The
ground was very hard, but out of it were
sprouting tiny plants, and there was a little
stream running. He said, " This is a gar-
den we are making, no one else knows of
it. We shine here every day; see, the
ground has cracked with our shining, and
this little stream is bursting out. See, the
flowers are growing."
And he climbed on the rocks and picked
from above two little flowers with dew on
them, and gave them to me. And I took
one in each hand; my hands shone as I
held them. He said, " This garden is for
all when it is finished." And he went away
to his companion, and I went out into the
And as I walked in the light I heard a
148 TEE SUNUGHT LAY
loud sound of much singing. And when
I came nearer I saw one with closed eyes,
singing, and his fellows were standing
round him ; and the light on the closed eyes
was brighter than anything I had seen in
Heaven. I asked one who it was. And
he said, " Hush I Our singing bird."
And I asked why the eyes shone so.
And he said, " They cannot see, and we
have kissed them till they shone so."
And the people gathered closer round
And when I went a little further I saw
a crowd crossing among the trees of light
with great laughter. When they came
close I saw they carried one without hands
or feet. And a light came from the
maimed limbs so bright that I could not
look at them.
And I said to one, " What is it? "
He answered, " This is our brother who
once fell and lost his hands and feet, and
ACROSS MY BED 149
since then he cannot help himself; but we
have touched the maimed stumps so often
that now they shine brighter than anything
in Heaven. We pass him on that he may
shine on things that need much heat. No
one is allowed to keep him long, he belongs
to all " ; and they went on among the
I said to God, " This is a strange land.
I had thought blindness and maimedness
were great evils. Here men make them
to a rejoicing."
God said, " Didst thou then think that
love had need of eyes and hands I "
And I walked down the shining way
with palms on either hand. I said to God,
"Ever since I, was a little child and sat
alone and cried, I have dreamed of this
land, and now I will not go away again.
I will stay here and shine." And I began
to take off my garments, that I might shine
as others in that land ; but when I looked
150 THE SUNUGHT LAY
down I saw my body gave no light. I
said to God, " How is it? "
God said, " Is there no daik blood in
your heart; is it bitter against none?"
And I said, " Yes " ; and I thought
— " Now is the time when I will tell God,
that which I have been meaning to tell
him all along, how badly my fellow-men
have treated me. How they have misun-
derstood me. How I have intended to be
magnanimous and generous to them, and
they ." And I began to tell God; but
when I looked down all the flowers were
withering under my breath, and I was
And God called me to come up higher,
and I gathered my mantle about me and
And the rocks grew higher and steeper
on every side; and we came at last to a
place where a great mountain rose, whose
top was lost in the clouds. And on its side
ACROSS MY BED 151
I saw men working; and they picked at
the earth with huge picks; and I saw that
they laboured mightily. And some la-
boured in companies, but most laboured
singly. And I saw the drops of sweat fall
from their foreheads, and the muscles of
their arms stand out with labour. And I
said, " I had not thought in heaven to see
men labour so ! " And I thought of the
garden where men sang and loved, and I
wondered that any should choose to labour
on that bare mountain-side. And I saw
upon the foreheads of the men as they
worked a light, and the drops which fell
from them as they worked had light.
And I asked God what they were seek-
And God touched my eyes, and I saw
that what they found were small stones,
which had been too bright for me to see
before; and I saw that the light of the
stones and the light on the men's foreheads
152 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY
was the same. And I saw that when one
found a stone he passed it on to his fellow,
and he to another, and he to another. No
man kept the stone he found. And at
times they gathered in great company
about when a large stone was found, and
raised a great shout so that the sky rang;
then they worked on again.
And I asked God what they did with
the stones they found at last. Then God
touched my eyes again to make them
stronger; and I looked, and at my very
feet was a mighty crown. The light
streamed out from it.
God said, " Each stone as they find it
is set here."
And the crown was wrought according
to a marvellous pattern; one pattern ran
through all, yet each part was different.
I said to God, " How does each man
know where to set his stone, so that the
pattern is worked out?"
ACROSS MY BED 153
God said, " Because in the light his fore-
head sheds each man sees faintly outlined
that full crown."
And I said, " But how is it that each
stone is joined along its edges to its fellows,
so that there is no seam anywhere?"
God said, " The stones are alive ; they
And I said, " But what does each man
,gain by his working? "
God says, " He sees his outline filled."
I said, " But those stones which are last
set cover those which were first ; and those
will again be covered by those which come
God said, " They are covered, but not
hid. The light is the light of all. With-
out the first, no last."
And I said to God, "When will this
crown be ended?"
And God said, " Look upl "
I looked up; and I saw the mountain
154 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
tower above me, but its summit I could
not see ; it was lost in the clouds.
God said no more.
And I looked at the crown : then a long-
ing seized me. Like the passion of a
mother for the child whom death has
taken; like the yearning of a friend for
the friend whom life has buried; like the
hunger of dying eyes for a life that is slip-
ping; like the thirst of a soul for love at
its first spring waking, so, but fiercer was
the longing in me.
I cried to God, " I too will work here;
I too will set stones in the wonderful pat-
tern ; it shall grow beneath my hand. And
if it be that, labouring here for years, I
should not find one stone, at least I will
be with the men that labour here. I shall
hear their shout of joy when each stone is
found; I shall join in their triumph; I shall
shout among them; I shall see the crown
grow." So great was my longing as I
ACROSS MY BED 155
looked at the crown, I thought a faint light
fell from my forehead also.
God said, " Do you not hear the singing
in the gardens? "
I said, " No, I hear nothing; I see only
the crown." And I was dumb with long-
ing; I forgot all the flowers of the lower
Heaven and the singing there. And I ran
forward, and threw my mantle on the earth
and bent to seize one of the mighty tools
which lay there. I could not lift it from
God said, " Where hast thou earned the
strength to raise it? Take up thy man-
And I took up my mantle and followed
where God called me; but I looked back,
and I saw the crown burning, my crown
that I had loved.
Higher and higher we climbed, and the
air grew thinner. Not a tree or plant was
on the bare rocks, and the stillness was
156 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY
unbroken. My breath came hard and
quick, and the blood crept within my
finger-tips. I said to God, " Is this
God said, "Yes; it is the highest."
And still we climbed. I said to God,
" I cannot breathe so high."
God said, " Because the air is pure ? "
And my head grew dizzy, and as I
climbed the blood burst from my finger-
Then we came out upon a lonely moun-
No living being moved there; but far
off on a solitary peak I saw a lonely figure
standing. Whether it were man or woman
I could not tell; for partly it seemed the
figure of a woman, but its limbs were the
mighty limbs of a man. I asked God
whether it was man or woman.
God said, " In the least Heaven sex
reigns supreme; in the higher it is not
ACROSS MY BED 157
noticed; but in the highest it does not
And I saw the figure bend over its work,
and labour mightily, but what it laboured
at I could not see.
I said to God, " How came it here?"
God said, " By a bloody stair. Step by
step it mounted from the lowest Hell, and
day by day as Hell grew farther and
Heaven no nearer, it hung alone between
two worlds. Hour by hour in that bitter
struggle its limbs grew larger, till there
fell from it rag by rag the garments which
it started with. Drops fell from its eyes
as it strained them; each step it climbed
was wet with blood. Then it came out
And I thought of the garden where
men sang with their arms around one
another; and the mountain-side where
they worked in company. And I shud-
158 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
And I said, "Is it not terribly alone
God said, "It Is never alone! "
I said, " What has it for all its labour?
I see nothing return to It."
Then God touched my eyes, and I saw
stretched out beneath us the plains of
Heaven and Hell, and all that was within
God said, " From that lone height on
which he stands, all things are open. To
him Is clear the shining in the garden, he
sees the flower break forth and the streams
sparkle ; no shout is raised upon the moun-
tain-side but his ear may hear it. He sees
the crown grow and the light shoot from
it. All Hell Is open to him. He sees the
paths mount upwards. To him, Hell is
the seed ground from which Heaven
springs. He sees the sap ascending."
And I saw the figure bend over its work,
and the light from its face fell upon It.
ACROSS MY BED 159
And I said to God, " What Is it ma-
And God said, " Music 1"
And he touched my ears, and I heard It.
And after a long while I whispered to
God, " This is Heaven."
And God asked me why I was crying.
But I could not answer for joy.
And the face turned from its work, and
the light fell upon me. Then it grew so
bright I could not see things separately;
and which were God, or the man, or I, I
could not tell; we were all blended. I
cried to God, "Where are you?" but
there was no answer, only music and light.
Afterwards, when it had grown so dark
again that I could see things separately,
I found that I was standing there wrapped
tight in my little old, brown, earthly cloak,
and God and the man were separated from
each other, and from me.
I did not dare say I would go and make
160 THE SUNLIGHT LAY
music beside the man. I knew I could not
reach even to his knee, nor move the instru-
ment he played. But I thought I would
stand there on my little peak and sing an
accompaniment to that great music. And
I tried ; but my voice failed. It piped and
quavered. I could not sing that tune. I
Then God pointed to me, that I should
go out of Heaven.
And I cried to God, " Oh, let me stay
here 1 If indeed it be, as I know it is, that
I am not great enough to sing upon the
mountain, nor strong enough to labour on
its side, nor bright enough to shine and
love within the garden, at least let me go
down to the great gateway; humbly I will
kneel there weeping; and, as the saved
pass in, I will see the light upon their faces.
I shall hear the singing in the garden, and
the shout upon the hillside "
God said, " It may not be ; " he pointed.
ACROSS MY BED 161
And I cried, " If I may not stay in
Heaven, then let me go down to Hell, and
I will grasp the hands of men and women
there; and slowly, holding one another's
hands, we will work our way upwards."
Still God pointed.
And I threw myself upon the earth and
cried, " Earth is so small, so mean I It is
not meet a soul should see Heaven and be
cast out again I "
And God laid his hand on me, and said,
" Go back to earth : that which you seek
I awoke: it was morning. The silence
and darkness of the night were gone.
Through my narrow attic window I saw
the light of another day. I closed my
eyes and turned towards the wall : I could
not look upon the dull grey world.
In the streets below, men and women
streamed past by hundreds; I heard the
162 TEE SUNLIGHT LAY
beat of their feet on the pavement. Men
on their way to business; servants on er-
rands; boys hurrying to school; weary
professors pacing slowly the old street;
prostitutes, men and women, dragging their
feet wearily after last night's debauch;
artists with quick, impatient footsteps;
tradesmen for orders ; children to seek for
bread. I heard the stream beat by. And
at the alley's mouth, at the street corner,
a broken barrel-organ was playing; some-
times it quavered and almost stopped, then
went on again, like a broken human voice.
I listened: my heart scarcely moved; it
was as cold as lead. I could not bear the
long day before me; and I tried to sleep
again; yet still I heard the feet upon the
pavement. And suddenly I heard them
cry loud as they beat, " We are seeking 1 —
we are seeking ! — we are seeking ! " and
the broken barrel-organ at the street cor-
ner sobbed, "The Beautiful! — the Beau-
ACROSS MY BED 163
tiful ! — the Beautiful ! " And my heart,
which had been dead, cried out with every
throb, " Love ! — Truth ! — the Beautiful 1
— the Beautiful ! " It was the music I had
heard in Heaven that I could not sing
And fully I awoke.
Upon the faded quilt, across my bed a
long yellow streak of pale London sun-
light was lying. It fell through my narrow
I laughed. I rose.
I was glad the long day was before me.
Paris and London.